I often think people are just messing with me. Whenever we run any sort of DVRT program and we are setting up, inevitably there are some Ultimate Sandbags in the corner that I can tell people are eying. At first I wasn’t sure why people looked so suspicious. What was it that they all wanted to do?! It became apparent that no matter where in the world we were, or what type of fitness conference we were attending, people just wanted to do a kettlebell swing!!!
Trust me, I have racked my head trying to figure out why THIS is what people want to do with the Ultimate Sandbag when they think no one is looking. Nothing, I have no good reason! In fact, now I anticipate that people want to do a kettlebell swing with the Ultimate Sandbag and have to explain why it is a bad idea!
That is one of the many things that make us different with DVRT. All the copycat companies don’t care what you do with their sandbags as long as you buy them. For us, we believe the power of the Ultimate Sandbag comes in the knowledge of DVRT. How to use our system to get great results as well as knowing what NOT to do! Almost above all we think that helps you trust us in that we actually want to see you succeed.
So, why are we being no fun by discouraging you from doing a kettlebell swing with the Ultimate Sandbag? The biggest reason is that the kettlebell is one piece. The weight, the handle, the ball, they are all connected into one seamless unit. The Ultimate Sandbag is a collection of pieces, including an internal weight that moves. What happens when you do a kettlebell swing with the Ultimate Sandbag is you get this awkward movement that causes a nasty rebound on your body. This results in issues in the elbow, shoulder, and definitely potentially the low back!
That is why we always say, “use the right tool for the right job!” If you want to do a kettlebell swing, kettlebells work best! However, we can take the idea of kettlebell swing and put a unique DVRT spin on it with one of my favorite drills….Shoveling!
DVRT Shoveling is basically a rotational kettlebell swing. Not awesome to do with the kettlebell because you can’t get the shoulders in great alignment to help decelerate the weight and potentially bashing your knee with the kettlebell doesn’t sound so awesome either. The dimension of the Ultimate Sandbag gives it a much better feel to the movement and being able to pull the handles apart allows us to really develop power, but equally decelerate the weight safely.
What Shoveling does is add a new plane of motion and direction to our kettlebell swing. So, it really isn’t “should you use kettlebells or Ultimate Sandbags”, but rather how you use them differently and build layers using one another.
Rotation can be one of the toughest things to teach so making sure you progress correctly is key!
Step 1: Get the Footwork
Rotation is ALL about the footwork. We don’t twist through the low back, we create a pivot into the ground and move through the hips. That is why the glutes have a fan shape and don’t run up and down. Learning to brace the core while we move through the feet and hips is key. That is why this drill by DVRT Master, Sean Lettero, is a great starting point!
Step 2: Rotate with Hinge
Like a good kettlebell swing, learning how to hinge through the hips while keeping a good plank is everything to doing our Shoveling movement. This can be really challenging as we add complexity to our movements so adding in a front loaded good morning helps us understand how we plank while we go into proper rotation.
Step 3: Own End Positions
When we add power we add instability. That is why people often find doing a kettlebell one handed swing such a big jump in instability! We want to make sure we own the end points that we know how to decelerate properly and keep proper alignment. Doing what DVRT Master, Greg Perlaki, shows by simply adding a row makes us spend time in that proper position and make corrections.
Having a strong kettlebell swing also means knowing how to engage the lats, so using a row isn’t just a trick to make you keep in the rotated position but brings awareness about ALL the muscles that are important!
Step 4: Be Reactive
Before we get to full Shoveling, we want to make sure we can react to the weight coming back down on the body. Like a kettlebell swing, being able to decelerate well is where a TON of the benefits lie. That means catching the weight with the hips, not the arms or low back, and being in a good position to transition back to the other side. Keeping the lever arm small in a high pull allows us to determine if we have faults in our pattern we need to fix before we get to our powerful kettlebell swing!
Step 5: Shoveling
You can see Shoveling doesn’t start like a kettlebell swing, we start from standing and go back to build a slight bit of momentum. Like a kettlebell swing, we don’t want to lift with our arms or make our first rep the biggest. Progressing power into our feet and the rotation of the movement we will see the Ultimate Sandbag continue to come higher on the body. Typically, we don’t go higher than chest height for safety reasons.
As DVRT Master, Cory Cripe, shows, dimension, not just load makes a difference. This is one of many reasons kettlebells do NOT work well for Shoveling and know how and why to use the right tool makes a difference!
The lessons of movement we get from not doing just Shoveling, but progressing teaches us so much about functional fitness concepts. A great craftsmen/woman realizes WHY they use certain tools and how to get the best results. This should show you how we construct success using this simple but important strategy. Good progression is powerful variety!